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90 Days

90 days.

Three months.

A blip on the calendar of life in general.

But a substantial enough amount of time to experience something profound and life-changing.

We take 90 day challenges to work on our bodies, our physical fitness and health.  If we’re diligent, if we want it badly enough to put in the work, the energy, the time required, then we see changes. Sometimes even dramatic ones.

What if we did the same for our hearts and souls?  What if we took one hour a day for 90 days to sit with Jesus and ask Him to heal, work on and grow our hearts?  What if we journaled (if even just a sentence) every day for 90 days, asking questions, pondering scripture, venting, being just full core honest with ourselves and God?  What if we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable enough with God that we sit raw and naked-souled before Him?

This can only be a win-win situation.

Because the truth is, God tells us that He will meet us there.  He is thrilled to share His heart with us.  He thrives on healing us.  He has so much more for us than we are experiencing today.  Himself.

90 days.  Risk free.  Results guaranteed.

What will 90 days from today look like?  I have no idea.  But I do know this.  That where God is involved there are surprises we could never have imagined.  Things that our hearts and souls didn’t even know they were thirsty for.

90 days could turn into 180 days which could turn into a year.  Which could result in a lifetime of even deeper intimacy with God and a heart waking each morning to experience Him in brand new ways.  Unafraid of the future.  Armed for whatever lies ahead.  Excited for the blessings found only in holding hands with the One who holds it all.

I am on day three of my 90 day challenge.  Listening and crying out and journaling for an hour each day.  I am partnering with another for accountability and the shared joy of  watching God do amazing things together.  Each page written, marked with the date and placed in a box not to be opened and reviewed until the 90 days is up.

It has to be honest.  No choosing the right words or re-reading.  Just raw on a page of where I am at right this minute and where I am asking God to take me.  Anywhere He chooses, because I am safe when I am with Him.

By Thanksgiving my 90 days will be up.  And I have the distinct feeling that the result will be a Thanksgiving of the heart like I have never experienced before.

Want to be part of the 90 day challenge of the heart with me?

Can you imagine all the stories we will have to share????

:-)

James 4:8 – Come close to God, and God will come close to you…

Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

1 Corinthians 2:10 – But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.

 

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Tadpoles In My Kitchen

Yesterday I had two different contractors come and give me ideas for opening up my kitchen and redoing a few things. And boy, did the ideas fly!

There is something about combining one creative soul’s visions with another.  Design shaking hands with decor.  Practicality locking arms with preference. Suddenly my meager ideas were given new wings as an expert showed me ways that those dreams in my head could become a reality.

The pictures in my head are growing legs – little tadpoles of possibility swimming happily and stretching their new tiny appendages.  

But my kitchen is not the only place where these little guys are swimming.  There are much more important and pressing things in my head than holes in walls and new granite. Thoughts with purpose and meaning and eternal value.  Things that so offend The Enemy that he is doing anything he can to frustrate and block and distract these symbols of life.

Because my Contractor, my Carpenter, my Jesus is very much at work on a project of the soul.  Knocking down walls.  Removing granite.  Replacing the old with new.  Adding windows to let in natural and very divine light.  There is pain in the process.  Inner messes caused by the teardown.  Things are being updated and revamped.  And the final product, the ultimate goal, will be a thing of beauty.

Tadpoles are okay with swimming in water that is less than clear.  Because they feel change coming.  They are developing not only legs, but a voice in all its creakiness, that will prove that a metamorphosis has occurred.

Mixed metaphors.  I know.  But my Carpenter is also my Creator.  He created this little tadpole that is me.  He is growing the tadpole and drafting up His plans on the rooms in my heart.  He is multi-talented and very good at multi-tasking.

 And I think He’s okay with the poetic faux pax….

Philippians 1:6 – And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Psalm 139:13-16 – For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

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Calling It

(This is for all of us who are done with the antics. I could not NOT write this.  Forgive the candor, if it needs forgiving.  I honestly don’t think it does.  Stand and shake a fist with me? :-))

I won’t be silent…

Satan has tried for long enough to keep me quiet. To distract and discourage and discount me. He has brought me down to the depths of despair and the vile darkness that resides there.  

He has thrown curveballs of circumstance and extreme measures of heartache and difficulty and sickness and sin to shut me up.

He has called me “foul” and “unworthy” and “despised” to my face and left me in the heap we call shame.

But now it’s my turn.

And I am calling Bull. Shit.

You are not the victor with your arrogant flag raised in the wind that has knocked me down.

Your ugly, taunting voice, though at times the only sound I can hear, will NOT have the last word.

That vicious, malignant smile that spreads across your face each time I fail will be smacked right back to the pit of hell where it belongs.

Because it seems you have forgotten (as, sadly too often, have I) that I AM NOT YOURS.

The wounds, your bite marks of fear and dread that leave me bleeding, HAVE BEEN HEALED by the One, whose I am.

The scarlet letter you would so love to leave tattooed on my heart, a daily reminder of my sins, HAS BEEN PERMANENTLY REMOVED, by the One, whose I am.

The neon sign whose message reads, “<” , designed with your own hand, HAS BEEN UNPLUGGED and REPLACED, by the One whose I am. HE is “>”.

So stop with your finger pointing, your name calling, your false accusations. They will all serve only to remind me that you are a sore and very insecure loser who is desperately trying to get others to join his losing team.

I belong to Jesus.

I know you remember the cross. Oh, how you hate that symbol and all that happened that day when Jesus died. When He took everything that you represent and took it to that tree with Him. To take its power and kill it. To take its pain and heal it. To take death by the throat and strangle it to life.

And as much as you hate the cross, I know you hate that empty grave even more. Where the proof was in the pudding. That death had been overcome. That life rose with the sun and with the Son on that Sunday morning so long ago.

It declared Jesus the winner.

And you, well, not.

I will sing louder than you can mock, “Jesus loves me, this I know…”

I will walk, run even, when you try to pull me down or trip me up.

Every name you call me will bounce off of me because I wear the name of Jesus as my identity badge.

You might make me cry, but you can’t take my joy, my hope, my love, foreign words in your limited vocabulary.

And even if you were to smite me, you can never truly take my life. 

I’ve got the brand that lasts forever….

 

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Because He Said So

imageBecause He said so….

That’s how I  can know.

When I can’t see or hear or understand

When things seem upside down, backward or completely inside out

Even when nothing makes sense and the world has gone mad

That’s when I can know.

Because He said so….

I can know that He loves me

Because He said so.

When the image in the mirror does not please my fickle mind

When I’m certain that my fumbling efforts will never measure up

Even when I’ve fallen flat on my face in weakness or tripped over my own selfishness

That’s when I can know that He loves me.

Because He said so.

I can know that He’ll never leave me.

Because He said so.

When I feel completely alone in areas of uncertainty or struggle

When I place one timid foot over the threshold of a new endeavor or opportunity

Even when I have ignored or turned my face from Him

That’s when I can know that He’ll never leave me.

Because He said so.

I can know that He has a plan for me.

Because He said so.

When I can’t see my next move because I can’t even read the map

When what I thought was going to happen suddenly takes a major left turn

Even when my hopes are dashed, my heart is broken and my dreams don’t come true

That’s when I can know He has a plan for me.

Because He said so.

He is the very definition of Love and I am His.  He loves me.

Romans 8:37-39 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Abandonment is not in His vocabulary or DNA.  He will never leave me. 

Hebrews 13:5 – God has said, “Never will I leave you;  never will I forsake you.”[

Everything He does in me, around me, for me has purpose and meaning.  He has a plan for me.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

 

 

 

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Love Melts

(For any of us who have felt the chilling effects of pain on our hearts.  There is a warmth that cuts through and melts the ice that has formed that hard spot.)

Icicles melt with the warmth of Your heart

I can feel the sharp edges disappear from each part…

Those places where coldness invaded my soul

Subtle cooling turned freezing and ice was the toll

Chilled bricks first so tiny, somehow built a wall

Cold to the touch, impenetrable

Still…

Once ice was just water, flowing and free

Till the ice box of pain trapped the water in me

The temperature plunged in that one tiny pocket

Shivering, longing for Someone to unlock it

Ice picks of guilt tried to cut through the cold

Shame took a stab, while grief grabbed ahold

But ice begets ice and pain soothes no pain

And icicles formed out of what was once rain

Until…

The Son shined its rays on that cold place in me

Love opened the icebox with its unfailing key

The ice was no match for the warmth of the Son

The freezing was over, the melt had begun

Ice turned to water, now water flows free

Through the hands of the Son, whose love rescued me…

 

 

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Up In The Clouds

Sometimes I find myself up in the clouds

Where rainbows can frolic and play right out loud

Where the sun and the moon still share equal sky

And dreams can take flight up where eagles fly

The twinkling stars, they catch my full gaze

They leave my mouth open, my small mind amazed

This dreamer’s notions find sweet comfort there

Free to soar, free to think, free to hope and to dare

Ideas float gently where gravity fails

With no fear of falling, levity prevails

No earthly boundaries, no walls in the sky

All senses relax in this natural high

Oh no, I’m not lost, but my thoughts can’t be found

If you’re standing down here, looking up from the ground.

You’re welcome to join me in this place I call home

There’s always more room in the stratosphere’s zone

Please forgive me if attention has left me behind

I’m up in the clouds with the dreams in my mind….:-)

 

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Weak Spots

This week has seemed to highlight everything about me that is lacking.  Points of weakness that have been revealed.  Things I need to work on and strengthen.  Blind spots that need correcting. Areas where I feel “less than” and scattered.

Weeks like this are tough. Severely humbling.  But absolutely not without purpose.

Because everywhere I look in the Bible, I see Jesus using flawed, broken, weak people.  I see Him changing them, healing them, working through them and transforming their lives into something that highlights His character and His plan.

And while my weaknesses frustrate me, He sees them as opportunities to show His best work.  Those places in my life where my progress illustrates His power at work.  Where my shortcomings reveal His long suffering.  Where what I don’t possess makes room for what He DOES possess.

He will take those spots that need tweaking and strengthening and work with me to build them up, for the benefit of others and to make His name shine a little brighter through my life.

But I believe there will be other weak points that He will allow to remain weak.  To keep me humble and to remind me that I need Him.  That I need and can celebrate the strengths of others where I lack.

This is no pity party.  Just a time of every-so-often self-examination, trying to see things the way they actually are through Jesus’ eyes.  What needs to change and what is okay because it’s just the way He made me.  Excited for the promise of growth, and a determination to be content with what He says is okay just as it is.

Confident that He can use not just my strengths, but every weakness I possess as I give it to Him for a greater purpose and cause – for the love of Him and others.

Seems like a win-win to me…. :-)

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

John 9:1-3 – As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

1 Corinthians 1:27 – But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

 

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Who Knew????

Who knew????

Who knew on August 17, 1985, that the little bundle of joy that made her way into this world would change my life forever?

Who knew that for the first time a beautiful little 7 lb. package would show a young woman what unconditional, unrelenting, unstoppable love looked like?

Who knew that from that day foreword she would pave the way for three other siblings that would join her in the coming years?

Who knew that this little girl would be what would make two inexperienced people figure out what parenthood was all about?

Who knew that this tiny little thing would wind up showing and teaching us every bit as much as we would be able to show and teach her?

Who knew that every day since then we would love her more?

Who knew that two humble souls would stand today amazed and proud as we see the beautiful, capable, servant hearted, Jesus-loving woman that tiny little infant became?

Who knew????

God knew.

So, Janay Rochelle, today I thank Jesus for choosing you for us.  For blessing us with the privilege of not only giving you life, but sharing that life with you as parents and, now, as the dearest of friends.

Happy, happy  birthday, precious girl.  We could not be prouder or lover you more.

Until tomorrow :-)

x0x0x0x0

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Linger

image
lin·ger:
ˈliNGgər/

- stay in a place longer than necessary, typically because of a reluctance to leave

 – spend a long time over (something).

 – persist, continue, remain, stay, endure

 

You linger over me

Help me linger there with You

You are in no hurry

Help me to slow down, too.

Your never-ending presence

Is the salve that soothes my soul

Your touch, my ease,  Your words, my muse

When life has taken toll.

You linger over me

As if You’ve no place else to go

Our conversations slow, relaxed

A gentle ebb and flow.

Woo me to that place again

Where time somehow stands still

Where all of You meets all of me

And my empty gets its fill.

You linger over me

As you listen to my heart

Then graciously, you speak to me

Your secrets to impart.

I’ll never truly understand

The company You keep

A simple, broken, dreaming girl

Your often-wand’ring sheep.

You linger over me

Help me linger there with You

To gaze and listen, rest and lean

As You, my soul renew….

Luke 10:39 & 42 – Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said…”Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Hebrews 13:5 – “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Psalm 139:7-10 – Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Isaiah 57:15 – “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

 

 

 

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The Great Exchange

I had a conversation with a dear woman recently who is in the depths of a struggle bigger than herself.  Just hearing her story tore at my heart.  She feels trapped.  Alone. Knowing the way out but afraid of falling back into the pit. Fragments of light and truth woo her from the thick darkness, but the pull of that darkness keeps her from moving forward.

Most of us have had variations of that struggle.  The tug-of-war in our hearts that holds us back from real, true life and freedom.  Addictions of all shapes and sizes, distorted thinking, dysfunctional attitudes or habits, deeply rooted selfishness.  Dark cloud covers that block the warmth and beauty and light of an endless sky.  Shackles that prevent our hearts from precious freedom.

As this friend and I were talking, the clearest picture of Jesus on the cross came to mind.  In those hours of His grueling death, he felt the weight of our sin, but He also felt the darkness of its effects on us.  He experienced the prison of the soul, the blackness of desperation, the entrapment of the heart.  The crushing effect on his mind, body and spirit, the blackness that separated Him from His Father caused Him to scream out to His Father, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me??????!!!!!!!”  The deepest sense of agony propelling from His gut.

He has felt YOUR pain.  YOUR struggle and mine.  And He died to nail all of it to tree, killing that which was killing us.  He experienced the pit of darkness so that we don’t have to.  When He rose from the grave, He brought the life that replaced death, the light that replaced darkness, the solution that replaced the problem.

We still live in a very broken world where spiritual battle is an every day occurrence.  But because of Jesus, we’ve been given that same power that raised His very dead body from the grave.  Will we tap into that power by relying on His strength in us?  Will we focus on that fragment of light and take steps towards it and find that with each step forward the light becomes bigger and brighter and the darkness begins to fade?

We were meant for the light and life and freedom.  It suits each and every one of us.  And once we experience it we can’t help but want more of it, for ourselves and for others.

The Light, the Power, the Way Out.  He is there.

He is waiting….

John 10:10 – The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Matthew 27:45-46 –  From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “”Eloi, Eloi,” “lama” “sabachthani?””–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

1 John 4:9 – God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

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